Running daily sounds like a great idea when you sign up for a half marathon or want to lose those last 10 pounds.
Then the aches and pains set in and you start to wonder what you got yourself into.
“Running is a high-demand activity,” said Nicole Quarne, a Marshfield Clinic physical therapist. “If your goal is to run more frequently, you need to work your way toward being able to do it on a daily basis.”
Running more, the safe way
Quarne offered these tips for staying injury free whether you’re a new or experienced runner.
1. Start slow.
New runners shouldn’t run every day, or even five days a week. Even if you used to run or you’re already physically fit, your body needs time to adjust to higher-impact activity.
“Start with three days a week to get your body adapted to running. Gradually increase your frequency,” Quarne said. “Increase your distance by 10 percent per week to lower your chance of injury.”
Take time to warm up, cool down and stretch.
“Most experienced runners take at least one day off from running each week,” Quarne said.
Know the signs of injury. General soreness that lasts a day or two is normal. Pain concentrated in one area usually means an injury is developing and you should rest. See a doctor if the pain doesn’t improve or gets worse.
3. Check your shoes.
Starting a running program in 10-year-old sneakers almost certainly will cause leg pain. Worn-out shoes don’t absorb shock well, which is hard on your joints. Get new shoes if you need to and replace them every 500 miles.
4. Run on soft surfaces.
Trails are the best surface for running because they provide some cushion but still let you push off the ground easily. Treadmills also have some cushion and are easier on your joints than asphalt or concrete.
If you run on a surface that is pitched or angled, change your path occasionally so one side of your body isn’t taking the brunt of the impact.
5. Cross train.
Cross training makes you a better runner. Bike or swim on days you don’t run to improve your endurance. Strength training that includes core work and lateral movements will help your body tolerate more running without injury.